Restorative Justice: Implications for Organizational Change
This page is archived material and is no longer updated. It may contain outdated information and broken links. The material
presented on these pages is the product of five regional symposia held on restorative justice between June 1997 and January
Moving a corrections system to embrace a new paradigm of justice is no easy task. It requires creative leadership and vision.
It also requires a highly disciplined, long-term commitment to implementing a new approach through a collaborative process
involving all staff members. This article reports on the journey toward restorative justice through systemic change in the
Dakota County Community Corrections Department in Minnesota.
Correctional systems are offender-driven, with little attention given to the needs facing individual victims or the victimized
community. Even in those jurisdictions attempting to respond more effectively to victim needs, the emphasis tends to be upon
the importance of offenders paying restitution to victims, often in the context of restitution payment being therapeutic for
the offender. Rarely are victims given the opportunity to play a more active role in the justice process (Marshall & Merry;
1990; Umbreit, 1994b, 1991; Wright, 1991; Zehr, 1990).
The criminal justice system is focused upon the state as the victim, with the actual individual victim being placed in a very
passive role and having little input. In the criminal justice system, adversarial relationships and processes are normative,
as is the imposition of severe punishment in order to deter or prevent future crime. The fact that criminal behavior represents
interpersonal conflict is ignored. The manner in which the criminal justice system frequently deals with victims and offenders
often heightens the conflict.
There is an increasing national interest, however, in embracing the principles of a different paradigm of justice. "Restorative
justice" (Bazemore, 1994; Umbreit, 1994a; Zehr, 1990) views crime as a violation of one person by another, rather than as
a violation against the state. Dialogue and negotiation are typical, with a focus upon problem-solving for the future rather
than establishing blame for past behavior.
Severely punishing offenders is less important than providing opportunities to empower victims in their search for closure
through gaining a better understanding of what happened and being able to move on with their lives, to impress upon offenders
the real human impact of their behavior, and to promote restitution to victims (Umbreit, 1994a). Zehr (1990) notes that instead
of ignoring victims and placing both victims and offenders in passive roles, restorative justice principles place both the
victim and the offender in active and interpersonal problem-solving roles.
These principles of restorative justice are now being seen in a growing number of communities throughout North America and
Europe. In the past, advocates of restorative justice tended to focus on specific program initiatives in local communities.
Today, restorative justice is more frequently being advocated in the context of broad systemic change in entire correctional
systems. The Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) project, supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, is the clearest example of such system change advocacy. The BARJ project is
working intensively with five juvenile corrections systems in various parts of the country in an effort to initiate fundamental
change in the manner in which those justice systems operate.
Restorative justice has tapped into a stream of energy and excitement within corrections departments nationwide. For many,
this energy has remained inert for years under the pressures of changing public expectations, legislative mandates, public
safety demands, and escalating probation caseloads. Probation departments are re-discovering the personal and professional
motivations for their staffs entering the corrections field. Typically, those motivations are to promote offender change,
to assist crime victims toward wholeness, and to make individual communities safer. For too long, the emphasis has been on
surveillance and monitoring instead of those tenets brought forth by restorative justice principles such as competency development
within the offender, victim participation and services, offender accountability, and community involvement and responsibility.
Discovering this energy is a promising beginning for productive changes in corrections, but it is not enough. Planning for
system changes in a bureaucratic organization is not easy even in the most fertile environments. Multiple barriers exist,
ranging from workload to politics.
Dakota County is part of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, located just south of Minneapolis. With a population
of 310,000, it is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. The Dakota County Community Corrections Department was
selected as one of five jurisdictions nationwide to receive technical assistance through the BARJ project. Consultation services
and training were provided for the purpose of helping the department learn about and adopt policies and programs consistent
with restorative justice principles.
Dakota County is now one year into its planning process and is about to implement a number of practical restorative justice
recommendations. The purpose of this article is to illustrate some of the planning activities needed to prepare the department
for fundamental changes in the approach to and delivery of restorative services. That is not to suggest that there is only
one way. Each agency has different resources, assets, deficits, priorities, motivations, and system environments that require
varying approaches to planning changes. The authors hope this article will help flesh out some of the issues that agencies
should think through and the activities they should undertake in a restorative justice planning process.
Preparing for Change
Perhaps the biggest mistake many organizations make when attempting to adopt restorative justice principles is miscalculating
what a restorative justice agency is. Too often, restorative justice is viewed as a program, such as victim-offender mediation
or community work service, or seen as a politically correct way of naming the activities already in place in probation departments.
As a result, real changes don't take place. A new program is developed or an existing program is renamed and yet the desired
outcomes are only achieved superficially, if at all.
Restorative justice is a way of thinking. It is a fundamentally different framework for understanding and responding to crime
and victimization in communities. Correctional systems adopting a restorative justice approach are no longer driven by offender
concerns only. Instead, they acknowledge the need for a three-dimensional response involving victims, offenders, and the community.
Once correctional agencies clearly understand restorative justice, their activities will naturally follow it. However, agencies
can't plunk down the latest restorative justice program and think that they are now performing restorative corrections. The
transition is easier if agencies have staff members who "think restorative justice" and if they develop policies that have
a clear purpose which brings about wholeness in victims, offenders, and communities.
An illustration might be helpful. A supervisor of a probation intake unit has hired a new probation officer who will be writing
pre-sentence investigation reports. Often in such a situation, the tendency is to train the officer by explaining what the
headings are in the report, when the report is due, and the various do's and don'ts. When we do this, we are describing the
activities we want accomplished. We also do this when explaining probation contact standards. The probation officer is told
how often each offender is required to be seen for the corresponding risk level. Rarely do we discuss what is the purpose
of the investigative report or the offender contact. What is the outcome we are looking for? How does the desired outcome
respond to needs of individual victims and the victimized community? If we simply describe the activities we expect the new
officer to complete, we are not encouraging the new officer to think independently. Therefore, every time a new circumstance
arises, the officer needs to consult with the supervisor in order to determine what the supervisor expects in that circumstance.
We free up our personnel when we allow them to understand and work toward the restorative justice outcome and not simply perform
a set of tasks.
Staff members in correctional agencies will not behave the way we want them to until we stop telling them how to act and instead
tell them who they are and what outcomes we are looking for in their work. When we tell the probation officer that he or she
is a restoration officer who is responsible for bringing about repair to the victim, competency development in the offender,
and safety to the community, we have defined who the officer is and what outcomes we expect. That individual then is freed
up to do his or her job and is less preoccupied with the specific activities which may or may not bring the department closer
to meeting restorative justice goals. Despite the volatile nature of crime, there are very few circumstances where the restorative
justice "roadmap" won't allow the officer to determine the best course of action.
Restorative justice is a way of thinking, a way of behaving, and a way of measuring. Until we change the way we think about
why probation exists, we can't change our behavior. We can't measure the changes until our behavior changes.
One of the first steps in preparing for a restorative justice planning process is making sure that the agency leadership understands
what restorative justice is. On the surface, the concept seems simple enough. In practice, it is much more difficult. Often,
people grasp the concept but are not sure how the concept is put into practice. As with so many conceptual frameworks, one
can justify most activities depending on one's understanding and emphasis on parts of the framework. Understanding a new conceptual
framework requires careful study and discussion, thorough readings, conferences, and intrastaff dialogue. It is often the
skeptics of the organization who can be most helpful in the preparation stage. The skeptic might be the one to ask, "Why are
we doing this? What is not working properly and needs to be fixed? How is this really different from what we are doing now?"
These questions test the leadership's knowledge of the concept and help identify the concerns agency staff might have.
It is useful for the agency leadership to examine the existing organizational readiness for change. Is the agency ripe for
positive change? What are the risks that might result in triggering momentum toward negative change? How motivated is the
staff for change of any kind? What pressures exist that might make the timing for the planning process good or bad? Janssen
(1987) speaks of organizational change in the context of a "Four-Room Apartment." These "apartments" or stages are: (1) contentment,
(2) renewal, (3) denial, and (4) confusion. The collective staff attitude about the agency mission and direction and the staff
understanding of the need for change are usually predominantly in one of these stages. When organizational change occurs,
it tends to move in a circular motion from the upper left to the bottom right (i.e., from contentment to denial to confusion
to renewal and back to contentment again). Naturally, the organization is most motivated for change in the confusion and renewal
stages. Restorative justice provides a compelling reason for an organization to move into the renewal stage, which is often
characterized by vibrancy, excitement, energy, and creativity. The actual organizational approach to restorative justice,
however, should differ depending on the current stage of the organization. For example, if the agency is in the denial stage,
the organization will need a great deal of time to discuss what isn't working well and the reasons to initiate change.
Agency workload can be a major barrier to an open discussion of the merits of a restorative justice planning process. When
staff members are burdened by ever increasing workloads, it can be extremely difficult even to initiate the discussion. Staff
members tend to view it as yet another meeting added to their workday which prevents them from getting their done. On the
other hand, workload can be a motivating factor. Many probation officers have begun to realize that the caseload pressures
have taken away job satisfaction and overall probation effectiveness. Given tight budgets and limited resources, relief from
the burgeoning workload is not likely to be provided soon. These circumstances can be a major motivating factor, making an
organization ready for change. Agency circumstances must be considered before initiating a planning process. The question
of how the time invested in restorative justice planning will benefit the department, the clients served, and individual staff
work must be answered before a planning process may successfully be launched.
The Trial Balloon
After agency leaders make an organizational assessment of readiness, they must introduce the restorative justice concept to
the agency staff through a variety of presentations and smaller discussion groups. Since such a planning effort will affect
every staff position represented both horizontally and vertically across the department, all staff members need to be exposed
to an overview of the restorative justice framework, preferably simultaneously. It is helpful to answer the question "Why?"
at this point. Why would the department undergo a large-scale planning process and invest up to hundreds of hours of staff
time for what appears to be an abstract concept? Possible questions for management to expect include: What needs to be changed?
How would this improve services? How would this help me with my workload? Am I going to be expected to increase services to
victims when I can't deliver sufficient services to offenders? If the community is supposed to be more involved, who is going
to take the responsibility to foster that involvement? Are my day-to-day job responsibilities going to change? Is this planning
process voluntary on my part?
These questions should not imply that the workforce will view restorative justice in a negative light. More often, probation
staffs respond with enthusiasm and hope. It makes sense to them, especially as it becomes obvious that the social problems
are becoming more complex and the criminal justice system can't be expected to be the sole response to the problem. Nonetheless,
the agency director should expect a number of practical questions that seek to bridge the intellectual gap between the abstract
concept which delivers well on promise and the detailed answers to "how does it affect me?"
At this introduction stage the agency may be most vulnerable to adopting quick fixes. The staff members most excited by the
restorative justice framework will want to channel their energy into work products. Those intrigued by the concept but overwhelmed
by current day-to-day activities will seek short-term solutions such as replicating a successful program started in another
jurisdiction. Managers will be attracted to quick responses to avoid protracted planning processes that consume inordinate
amounts of time. However, this is the time to exercise maximum discipline and self-restraint. The agency director can recognize
staff time constraints by offering a longer planning timeframe. Many staff members will welcome a longer timeframe so that
they can study the matter further and be involved in the planning process if they are offered the opportunity. Since restorative
justice is a new way of thinking and organizing agency activities, it requires a lengthy period of time to understand and
implement. It takes time to anticipate and plan for the fallout of major changes. Quick changes will result in problematic
chain reactions that can jeopardize the positive change environment. The challenge to the agency director is to keep the excitement
vibrant while holding back any "quick fixes."
Setting the Stage
Changing the way we think as individuals is not easy. We have a patterned way of conceptualizing and responding to events.
It is no different with an agency and can be exacerbated by the diversity of the staff. Each organization has a culture of
its own, a milieu which tends to perpetuate certain behaviors and attitudes and to discourage others. To alter this culture
takes time and forethought. There are three cultural shift rules of thumb that can help in the planning process.
1. Involve all the staff members and support them.
Agency leadership cannot sustain a long-term cultural shift by fiat. It is the staff members who deliver the core services.
They will either agree with, and act on, restorative justice or they won't. An internally motivated individual is nearly always
better at delivering the product than one externally motivated. Ownership of an agency mission and its outcome is best accomplished
when the "stakeholders" in that agency have been a part of defining that mission and outcome.
It's not enough to encourage staff members to participate. Often, barriers exist which prevent full participation. They may
be large workloads or inconvenient scheduled meeting times. Staff members may require management reassurance that input is
genuinely sought, even if the staff members' ideas are contrary to those of the administration. Most of us as employees seek
both formal and informal permission to get involved and express opinions openly without fear of retaliation or labeling. Staff
members need to know that the agency is interested in improving services, that staff members are in the best position to offer
ideas that work given their direct experience, and that management is willing to reduce barriers that might prohibit them
from participating. It is not necessary for all staff members to be involved in the planning process, but involvement of a
large portion of the agency is helpful. These staff members will later become the groundswell of support and initiative.
There will always be, however, a small percentage of employees who will not offer input and who will disparage attempts to
improve services. It's important to give these employees a chance to express their views and to attempt to accommodate any
legitimate concerns, but not to allow unproductive criticism to lead to erosion of the planning process.
2. Take time.
There are no shortcuts to good planning, especially when it involves a foundational change (or enhancement) of correctional
philosophy or principles. Restorative justice threatens existing thinking patterns and staff members need time to reflect
on its principles, challenge its assumptions, and test its application.
For some, concepts must come from different sources in order to be credible. The technical assistance provided to Dakota County
through the BARJ project was invaluable. Consultants from other jurisdictions presented information and demonstrated that
restorative justice principles can be put into practice with positive results. Newspaper accounts, quotes from non-correctional
personnel, and other sources all helped convey the message that restorative justice is not a whimsical fancy but a concept
that has captured the curiosity, and often the support, of professionals of many disciplines.
3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
There can be no substitute for consistent and thorough communication. When workload increases, often the communication flow
gets clogged and ineffective. Probation staff may be unaware of administrative planning activities and the time devoted to
them. Assumptions are made about what is, or is not, happening. The administration makes assumptions about what is important
to the staff. Constant communication is the only sure way to know how restorative justice is being received by personnel.
This communication includes giving information, keeping the staff aware of planning efforts, and listening to staff observations,
concerns, and ideas.
It is helpful to set up both formal and informal avenues for discussions on restorative justice. Staff members can be encouraged
to attend outside training on the subject. Brown bag luncheons can be organized. Also, spontaneous discussions about restorative
justice can often lead to excellent innovative thoughts. As one staff member noted, even "bad ideas are better than no ideas
The Wind Test
The planners who are exploring the ideas and implications of restorative justice for the department will become the internal
experts. They will understand the concept and begin to imagine how it can be implemented. A collective vision will begin to
emerge. As the staff planners spend more time on the subject, the tendency will be to lose touch with those staff members
who chose not to participate in the planning process. Periodic "wind tests" are helpful to assess whether the planners are
getting too far ahead of the staff body.
These wind tests might include sending out a memo describing the status of the planning project and inviting staff members
either to sit in on a planning meeting or to express thoughts in writing or verbally. The agency might want to send out a
survey (with a quick checklist format, along with an open-ended section for those who want to elaborate) to gauge how well
staff members understand the restorative justice concept, whether they agree with it, and whether they have any other thoughts
that would be useful to the planners. This reality check helps the planning group determine whether additional information
is needed or if certain barriers or opportunities exist that need to be attended to. Some examples of Dakota County staff
comments on such a survey early in the planning process included:
- In my opinion, restorative justice not only aids the victim, community and the offender, but also would help unify this department.
It would give us all a clearer mission and therefore a more consistent response from us.
- I think it is away of thinking about correctional practice that is respectful toward offenders and victims.
- We shouldn't do the Victim Services piece.
- I agree with the general concepts but still question how this will be put into practice.
- Restorative justice tends to be simplistic. A cure-all answer/replacement to direct supervision, punitive consequences, and
to supervising or monitoring increasingly large numbers of clients with insufficient staff.
- I am encouraged that the department is headed in this direction.
- Victims should have as much service as possible. I hope we will have a unit to specifically deal with restitution and additional
informational services to be provided for them.
- Thanks for the opportunity to speak out as a department and wanting our input.
Communicating the results of the staff feedback is helpful. Staff members may or may not know how the rest of their colleagues
are viewing the planning direction. It is useful to let them know that they are not alone in their concerns or to make them
aware that there is a great deal of excitement about the potential benefits to the department.
The longer an agency studies restorative justice and considers possible recommendations, the more some staff members will
want someone to come out and announce the changes that are to take place. Most of us don't like working in an environment
in which there is an awareness that "something" is about to take place, but what that something is, and when it will happen,
is unclear. Such an atmosphere is anxiety-producing. Management must resist this pressure to make quick decisions, to "decide
and move on," or it can undermine the grassroots ownership process of the planning efforts. However, staff members must be
given reassurances that the planning process will not be prolonged beyond a reasonable timeframe and that they will receive
opportunities to have their input considered before any final recommendations are implemented. Failure to provide some of
these reassurances will create department-wide anxiety that could grow into paranoia.
The Big Kick-Off
Perhaps what contributed most to the Dakota County BARJ Project success was the use of all-day "kick-offs" or training sessions
with national consultants who were credible, who were knowledgeable about corrections, and who had implemented restorative
justice principles in programs and policies within their agencies. The BARJ model emphasizes the need for greater balance
in corrections by focusing on the objectives of offender competency development, offender accountability, and community safety
while concurrently focusing on the emotional and material needs of individual victims and victimized communities. Dakota County
scheduled two all-day sessions (about 9 weeks apart), one with the director of the Deschutes County, Oregon, Community Corrections
Department on competency development, and on with the chief probation officer in Quincy, Massachusetts, on accountability
and community safety.
The consultants both provided an overview of what restorative justice means to a corrections agency. These overviews helped
reiterate the basic tenets of the framework, which need to be repeated in order ensure more comprehensive learning. Both consultants
provided practical examples of how restorative justice was implemented in their regions in order promote one of the three
objectives. It was useful to use two different consultants, as both had different approaches to the concepts and different
presentation styles, which meant that both reached a different segment of the staff attending.
The all-day sessions were divided into 1) a presentation of how restorative justice can promote specific objectives within
the BARJ approach and 2) a brainstorming process on how Dakota County might implement policy and program changes. The brain
storming served the following purposes:
- It actively involved all members of the staff.
- It required staff members to think about how restorative justice could help the agency in practical ways.
- It gave staff members power over the department's future.
- It tested the staff's understanding of restorative justice.
- It provided the base from which to start action groups.
At the end of the second all-day consultation, the department staff had a more complete understanding of restorative justice
and was beginning to envision how the department might deliver services differently if restorative justice provided the philosophical
underpinnings of the agency's activities. At this time, staff members were solicited to volunteer for one of three action
groups focusing on either competency development, accountability, or community safety. Approximately 50 percent of the department
staff volunteered to serve on one of the action groups.
Nuts and Bolts
One way to organize the staff planning effort is to divide the assignment into smaller, more focused work groups such as groups
on community safety, competency development, and accountability. Dakota County staff members volunteered for a specific action
group depending on which topic they thought they could contribute the most toward. Each group was to take the list of brainstormed
ideas from the two all-day training sessions, debate the merits of them, and refine or reject them. The groups were to expand
upon the recommendations that they believed had merit and submit them to management. The groups described each proposed action
step in more detail, gave a means to reach the objective, and provided a timeline by which the action was to be completed
and assigned to an individual department staff member who would be give the authority and responsibility to implement it.
The management provided each action group with a booklet that summarized the ideas generated and a list of guidelines designed
to assist group members in staying on task and completing assignments. As few "rules" as possible were given in order to maximize
the creativity of the staff groups. Some rules were necessary. For example, many ideas were expressed which may have benefited
the department but were not linked to restorative justice. To keep the tasks focused, the groups understood that each recommendation
was to somehow bring the department closer to a restorative justice corrections system. If an idea could not be articulated
in that context, the idea was set aside for further consideration outside of the BARJ project.
Of particular importance was that resource constraints were removed. Creativity can be stifled when lack of resources is mentioned
each time an idea is expressed. A well-designed concept that appears, on the surface, to necessitate a large infusion of time
or money can often be implemented with few additional resources. This can be done by carrying out the idea in stages or shifting
the existing resource allocation priorities. Removing the resource consideration freed up the staff to concentrate on restorative
Given the breadth of the staff planning effort, Dakota County set up a Restorative Justice Steering Committee made up of two
action group representatives from each of the three groups and administrative staff. The steering committee solicited thoughts,
concerns, and ideas from the staff, explored common themes, and served as troubleshooters to address potential problems. When
confusion arose, the steering committee discussed the issue and clarified the matter through the action group representative.
In addition, it was discovered that some restorative justice action steps did not fit neatly into any of the three action
groups established. For example, the proposals for determining outcome measures and promoting community involvement required
discussion outside of the action groups. Therefore, the steering committee took on the roles of consultant to the action groups,
addressing potential problems and devising department-wide recommendations that were greater in scope.
Creating a Vision
Once the restorative justice recommendations are developed enough to explain their practicality to all staff, the groundwork
for the next stage is laid. In Dakota County, a vision of where the department wanted to be 5 years later was needed. It was
not enough to understand restorative justice and to have a series of recommended action steps to implement. The department
needed a compelling vision of what the staff activities and outcomes should look like further ahead. This vision would help
carry the agency toward its goal. Rather than just a potpourri of restorative justice recommendations, the staff needed to
visualize what services would actually be like if the staff pushed ahead as planned.
All staff members involved in the action groups were invited to a "vision assembly." It was an all-day event at which staff
members were to create a vision using the ideas proposed by the three action groups. The invitees were given this task:
Imagine that the Dakota County Community Corrections Department no longer exists. All of you have mysteriously evaporated.
There are no units. All of the equipment remains, but the staff is gone. There is no history. There is only the future. You
have been asked to create a community corrections department that is restorative in design. All other parts of the criminal
justice system remain the same-the same judges, attorneys, social services, etc. The "system" practices remain the same, but
how you might respond to those practices may change. You can keep the same organizational structure or alter it altogether.
Whatever your model looks like, the only requirement is that it must fit a restorative justice framework.
The staff was divided into three groups, with each group assigned the same task. Staff members divided themselves into groups
depending on how they classified their current views on what the department should look like in five years. The three groups
were: The Tinkerers (those who ascribed to the opinion that the agency only needed to tinker with existing services, organizational
structure, and policies), The Radicals (those who wanted to sharply diverge from existing practice), and The Moderates (those
in between the two extremes). Each group then documented its vision.
Surprisingly, the similarities in how the three groups viewed the vision were far more common than the differences. More amazing
was the fact that the Tinkerers were more apt to sharply change the department than the Radicals were. A collective vision
began to emerge with the group as items of agreement were pulled together. This consensus became the foundation for the proposed
vision and ultimately the final action plan. The vision was given to the steering committee to finalize the details before
presenting it to the full staff.
Preparing for the Unveiling
The final stage of the change process included a session with one of the national consultants who had undergone similar planning
efforts and a presentation to all of the staff for feedback and further refinement. By now in the process, there should be
no surprises. Management has communicated with staff members all through the process. Opportunities for input and feedback
have been provided. The staff has been anticipating the final recommendations for some time. The time is right.
It is at this stage that things can unravel. Up to this point, no staff member has been immediately threatened with a change
in his or her day-to-day work activities. No manager has been asked to change the way he or she manages the unit or supervises
the unit staff. It is not uncommon for many of us to delay consideration of, or ignore altogether, those events that may never
come to pass until they actually happen. At this stage it will be increasingly apparent that a staff member might be asked
to do something that he or she has not done before or is not immediately competent to do without training and additional experience.
For example, the probation officer may be requested to provide to the client competency development instruction instead of
the traditional monitoring of the client's activities. This shift in emphasis means that the probation officer must learn
a new set of skills. For many, this will represent an exciting change for the betterment of staff, client, and public. For
others, it will cause anxiety and possibly fear.
Management should take into account these real concerns when it proposes the recommendations. It may appear as if the process
has to start over, but such action won't be necessary. It does mean that some staff will once again need some time to think
through the implications that change will have for them. Patience and reassurance is helpful to get staff and supervisors
through this stage. Piloting a significant change with a subset of the staff can be a way of working through both the potential
pitfalls that come with any change and the anxieties.
What About the Rest of the System?
This article was written for the corrections administrator or planner who is seeking to initiate a planning effort in his
or her corrections agency. Beginning a planning process for an entire criminal justice system would be a good subject for
a different article. It would, however, be useful to comment here on the importance of including all the agencies in the criminal
justice system when planning for restorative justice. Corrections is part of an interdependent system. Change in one part
of the system affects other agencies in that system. Attempts to accomplish objectives can be thwarted or enhanced depending
on the level of understanding and cooperation between each of the agencies.
Judicial commitment to restoration, for example, can be a key factor in how well a corrections agency meets its restorative
objectives. If a corrections agency develops a victim/offender mediation program, for example, which is not supported by the
judiciary, the program can fail quickly. On the other hand, if the court supports restorative concepts, a type of synergy
can occur, resulting in system-wide application of restorative principles.
Any thorough planning effort should include efforts at educating system representatives on restorative justice and provide
opportunities for their input. These efforts should not be limited to the criminal justice system. A key tenet in restorative
justice is that the community become more involved in correctional matters at all stages. The community contains the primary
players who can prevent crime. And, when crime does occur, the community can intercede in 1) providing the victim assistance,
support, and security, and 2) providing for offender accountability and opportunities for productive change.
In fact, restorative justice planning without significant involvement of community leaders and neighborhood activists falls
short of comprehensive restoration. Communities are more motivated to get involved in crime matters today than perhaps ever
before in modern history. As do corrections professionals, citizens need a framework from which to think about crime, its
causes, and effective interventions. Although citizens are an important resource for corrections, they have not been tapped
to a significant extent until recently.
Restorative justice provides a helpful framework for understanding crime and its consequences in a far more balanced perspective.
Instead of being offender driven, it leads to policies and interventions that also address the needs of individual victims
and victimized communities. Restorative justice emphasizes the importance of holding offenders personally accountable for
their criminal behavior while maximizing opportunities for the active involvement of victims and community members in the
justice process (Bazemore, 1994, 1992; Dignan, 1990; Maloney, Romig, & Armstrong, 1988; Marshall & Merry, 1990; Umbreit &
Coates, 1993 ' 1992; Umbreit, 1994a, 1994b, 1989; Wright, 1991; Zehr, 1990).
Moving a corrections department to adopt restorative justice as its mission requires creative leadership, vision, and maximum
involvement of all agency staff through continual two-way communication. The journey toward a more balanced and restorative
justice system also requires a deep commitment to long-term systemic change that is grounded in a spirit of collaboration,
renewal and hope.
Bazemore, G. (1994). Developing a victim orientation for community corrections: A restorative justice paradigm and a balanced
mission. Perspectives [Special Issue], 19-24.
Bazemore, G. (1992). On mission statements and reform in juvenile justice: The case of the "balanced approach." Federal Probation, 56, 64-70.
Coates, R.B., & Gehm, J. (1989). An empirical assessment. In M. Wright & B. Galaway (Eds.), Mediation and Criminal Justice (pp.251-263). London: Sage.
Dignan, J. (1990). Repairing the Damage: An Evaluation of an Experimental Adult Reparation Scheme in Kettering, Northhamptonshire. Sheffield, England: Centre for Criminological and Legal Research, Faculty of Law, University of Sheffield.
Janssen, C. (1987). Four-Room Apartment. In M.R. Weisbord, Productive Workplaces (pp. 266-267). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Marshall, T.F. & Merry, S. (1990). Crime and Accountability. London: Home Office.
Maloney, D., Romig, D., & Armstrong, T. (1988). Juvenile Probation: The Balanced Approach. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family court Judges.
Umbreit, M.S., & Coates, R.B. (1993). Cross-Site Analysis of Victim Offender Mediation in Four States. Crime and Delinquency, 39, 565-585.
Umbreit, M.S., & Coates, R.B. (1992). The Impact of Mediating Victim Offender Conflict: An Analysis of Programs in Three States.
Juvenile & Family Court Journal, 43, 21-28
Umbreit, M.S., (1994a). Victim Meets Offender: The Impact of Restorative Justice and Mediation. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.
Umbreit, M.S., (1994b). Victim Empowerment Through Mediation: The Impact of Victim Offender Mediation in Four Cities. Perspectives [Special issue], 25-30.
Umbreit, M.S. (1991, July). Restorative Justice: Having Offenders Meet with Their Victim Offers Benefits for Both Parties.
Corrections Today, 164-166.
Umbreit, M.S. (1989). Victims Seeking Fairness, Not Revenge: Toward Restorative Justice. Federal Probation, 53, 52-57.
Wright, M. (1991). Justice for Victims and Offenders. Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press.
Zehr, H. (1990). Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Criminal Justice. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.
Date Created: December 4, 2007